Bradshaw Foundation - Latest News

BRADSHAW FOUNDATION - LATEST NEWS

 

Homo erectus - an artist?

04 Dec 2014
Share on Facebook

This may be the earliest known engraving made by our human ancestor, on a fossilized shell discovered in Indonesia, thought to be between 430,000 and 540,000 years old.

Earliest known engraving made by our human ancestor

The deliberate patterns are being analysed by an international team of scientists. The shell, found on the Indonesian island of Java, has been carbon-dated to 540,000 years ago, which discounts the possibility that it was made by Neanderthals or modern humans. Until now, scientists saw the Blombos stone of South Africa as the oldest geometric, symbolic and purposeful carving - weighing in at roughly 77,000 years - but this latest proposal takes the event back some 350,000 years and points to Homo erectus as the artist.

geometric carvings in shell

Stephen Munro, from School of Archaeology and Anthropology at the Australian National University in Canberra, believes this rewrites human history and our understanding of early human species.

The etched and fossilised mussel shell itself was discovered in the 19th Century by the Dutch palaeontologist Eugene Dubois, as part of his discovery of and research into Homo erectus. But it was not until now that the patterns have been analyzed, initiated by archaeologist Josephine Joordens of Leiden University in the Netherlands and working with Munro.

Further studies of shells found at the site reveal the use of tools by Homo erectus, such as a shark's tooth to drill into the shell to force it open. Shells themselves may have been worked to use as tools for slicing and scraping.

What does the engraving mean? At this stage the scientists are not specifying the meaning or the purpose of the lines carved into the shell.

Editor's note: Homo erectus - 1.9 million to 200,000 years ago - had little body hair which meant it could shed heat and be active throughout the course of the day. This may have heralded a change from scavenger to hunter. Homo erectus had a smaller gut and smaller teeth than its predecessors, suggesting a better diet. Moreover, there is evidence to suggest the use of fire to cook food. This would produce a higher-energy diet, reallocating calories, and encouraging brain growth.

We also know that Homo erectus used comparatively primitive tools, at a time some 200,000 years before the Acheulean technology. However simple, these tools demonstrated a degree of planning and forethought. Homo erectus lived in a hunter-gatherer society, hunting in co-ordinated groups, and it has been suggested that it may have been the first hominid to use rafts to travel. It is thought to have used a proto-language, as indicated by the Dmanisi [Homo erectus georgicus, a sub-species of Homo erectus] vertebrae fossils.

Therefore, this new discovery and assertion about the engraving is conceivable. Was it purposeful? Probably. Was it art? Possibly. We don't even know with any real certainty what the geometric symbols in the Niaux cave in France represent, painted at the end of the Ice Age in the Magdalenian culture some 14,000 years ago. For Homo erectus, only many more discoveries will clarify the situation.

Follow the story in our Origins section:

http://www.bradshawfoundation.com/origins/index.php

 

COMMENTS

 
FACEBOOK UPDATES
** Like Page below to receive our articles on Facebook **
LATEST NEWS ARTICLES
 
LATEST ROCK ART
17 Apr 2015
LATEST CAVE PAINTINGS
LATEST PALEOANTHROPOLOGY
LATEST ARCHAEOLOGY
LATEST ANTHROPOLOGY
15 Apr 2015
27 Mar 2015
LATEST WORLD HERITAGE
Bradshaw FoundationAboutiShopBook ReviewSite MapMailing ListDonateFacebookTwitterContact
If you have enjoyed visiting this section of the website please consider adding a link
Bradshaw Foundation © MMXI
Homepage About the Foundation Contact Us Facebook News Articles Twitter List of Research Papers Professor Stephen Oppenheimer Travel Index About the Expeditions Forthcoming Expeditions Bespoke Expeditions Enquire Practical Information History of Exploration Welcome to the iShop Film Downloads DVD's Sculpture Prints Clothing Messenger Bag eBooks INORA Downloads About iLecture Films Shipping & Handling iLectures In Conversation Video Stories Travel Films Read the reviews Join the free Mailing List Bradshaw Foundation Facebook Friends of the Foundation Archive Index World's Oldest Rock Art Africa Documentary Films South Africa RARI Giraffe Carvings Niger Namibia Western Central Africa Africa Paintings Gallery Tanzania The Tuareg People Tuareg Salt Caravans Gilf Kebir Archive Index San Rock Art Paintings San Bushman San Rock Art Film Origins Centre Johannesburg Archive Index Arizona Baja California Baja California Film Coso Range Talking Stone Film Nevada Oregon Territory Australia Archive Index Introduction Bradshaw Paintings Kimberley Region The Unambal Hugh Brown Leif Thiele Gallery Dan Clark Grahame Walsh Ian Wilson Bradshaws / Gwion Gwion Archive Index Introduction Origins of the British Stonehenge Sounds of Stonehenge The British Museum British Isles Megaliths Gower Peninsula Rock Art Mendip Hills Prehistory Northumberland Rock Art Red Lady of Paviland Stone Age Mammoth Abattoir Archive Index Huashan Rock Art Yinchuan Museum Rock Art Festival Field Trip Gallery Itinerant Creeds Inner Mongolia & Ningxia Vanishing Civilization Life in Rock Art (PDF) Tibet Tibet Photographs Dazu Rock Carvings Tiger Motif Archive Index Chauvet Cave Lascaux Cave Niaux Cave Cosquer Cave Portable Art Research Paper Tuc d'Audoubert Bison Dr. Jean Clottes Index UNESCO World Heritage Introduction Cave Paintings Gallery Visiting the Chauvet Cave Return to Chauvet Cave Investigating the Cave Venus & Sorcerer Werner Herzog Film Chauvet Publications India Archive Index Rock Art Central India Pachmarhi Hills India Rock Art Gallery Middle East Archive Index Middle East Inroduction Rock Art of Iran Rock Art of Saudi Arabia United Arab Emirates Rock Art Ancient Geometry Middle East Colonisation Tanum Rock Art Museum Thor Heyerdahl Archive Index Introduction America's Oldest Art? Pedra Furada Bolivian Rock Art Campeche Island - Brazil Checta Petroglyphs - Peru Cueva de las Manos Santa Catarina Island - Brazil Rock Art in Britain Campeche Rock Art Petroglyphs El Salvador - Corinto Cave Hand Rock Art Paintings Tibetan Rock Art United Arab Emirates Uzbekistan Yinchuan Rock Art Museum Introduction Ice Age Art Gallery Claire Artemyz Jill Cook Interview Cycladic Introduction Cycladic Gallery Introduction Geometric Signs Chart Research Methodology Geometric Signs in France Sign Types/Countries/Regions Bibliography Ancient Symbols in Rock Art Newsletter Archive Download Issues Introduction Genetic Map Professor Stephen Oppenheimer Further Reading Origins of the British BBC Documentary Origins Index Origins Overview 13 Big Questions Stanley Ambrose Homo Floresiensis Herto Skulls Homo Dmanisi Liujiang Skull Introduction Sentinels in Stone Easter Island Rock Art Birdman Cult / Motif Sea & Marine Creatures Design & Motifs Dr Georgia Lee Easter Island Map Contemporary Art Glossary Conclusion Thor Heyerdahl Introduction When & Who Built It? How Was It Built? The Area Sounds of Stonehenge Meaning of a Pyramid Pyramid Studies Pyramid Superstructure Pyramid Substructure Pyramid Preparations Pyramid Building Saqqara Nabil Swelim Temples of Malta and Gozo Research in the Caucasus The Keselo Foundation Homo Dmanisi Ancient Toolmakers Index Introduction Descent into the Cave The Decorated Caves Shamanistic Experience Spring Initiation Rites Summary Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Professor John P. Miller Motif: Eternal Index Han Meilin Bruce Radke Christian Tuki Gordon Ellis-Brown Site Map Search the Website Glossary of Terms & Definition Podcast on iTunes Other Websites Contact the Foundation